There are two major divisions of pathology, clinical and anatomical. Clinical pathology diagnoses, monitors and confirms disease processes through use of microscopic study of tissue specimens, secretions, cells, and body fluids such as blood and urine. It is divided into sub-specialties, mainly chemical pathology or clinical chemistry, hematology, molecular genetics pathology, cytopathology, blood banking/transfusion medicine and clinical microbiology. Countries outside of the U.S. include the subspecialties of assisted reproductive technology, sperm bank, semen analysis, and immunopathology. U.S. CPs are certified through the American Board of Pathology which is made up of physicians from various specialties. Some countries outside of the U.S. allow other medical professionals, such as pharmacists, to receive licensing.
Each area of specialization has it own set of standards. Clinical chemistry focuses on study and analysis of body fluids. Chemical pathology focuses on hormone function, immune system and antibody function, as well as pharmacology. Hematology specialists work with blood banks to process donated blood, breaking it down into its various components so that it can be used. Medical microbiology studies bacteria, viruses and parasites and is closely related to the study of infectious diseases.
A residency may take 3-6 years to complete, for example, the Residency Training Program at University of North Carolina Hospitals has a four-year combined AP and CP residency with opportunities for research and for post-residency subspecialty fellowships. The goals of this training program for clinical pathology in NC is to prepare physicians seeking training for either an academic or community-practice career.
This specific medical community contributes greatly to our everyday lives in ways we may not imagine. The American Society of Clinical Pathology has over 130,000 members and provides hundreds of educational programs, national and international certification, coalition building, several publications and other media, They are also active advocates in Washington for the interests of laboratory medicine and are presently involved in a campaign to create 10 new antibiotics relatively soon.
This field has fantastic current and future career opportunities. With an average 48 hour work week for all specialties and above average professional satisfaction among those polled by the Univ. of Illinois, clinical pathologists enjoy starting salaries of over $ 125,000, slightly below surgical specialties. This career promises to be viable in the future with the great variety of positions that can be acquired by those who specialize in it, as well as provide the personal satisfaction that comes with participating in a field that positively impacts the population.